Exploring the Options for the St. Louis Cardinals Plan B

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PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles waits on deck in the seventh inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The saga, mercifully, has finally come to a close; the Giancarlo Stanton deal to the New York Yankees was made official this morning.

The smoke and mirrors process has run its course. Giancarlo Stanton made it clear that he would not accept a deal to St. Louis, and inevitably forced his way to the Bronx. Now, after “Plan A” failed, the St. Louis Cardinals must look at the alternatives.

Exploring the St. Louis Cardinals Plan B

The front office inked starting pitcher Miles Mikolas, a.k.a. “The Lizard King,” last week to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. Then, they signed reliever Luke Gregerson to a two-year, $11 million contract on Sunday.

While these additions could serve as key pieces to the pitching staff, they don’t necessarily move the needle. Yet, there are a few names circulating around that the Cardinals may target.

As the Winter Meetings are officially underway in Orlando, here are a few players on the trade market the Cardinals have been linked too.

Manny MachadoBaltimore Orioles

Here it is, the most attractive option on the market now that Stanton’s in pinstripes. Jon Heyman stated the Cardinals have “the best chance” of acquiring Machado, and though it’s a logical fit, it’s an extreme long-shot. The Orioles GM, Dan Duquette, seems hesitant to begin the daunting rebuilding process, and trading Machado would signify the disintegration of the Orioles.

Duquette had this to say when asked about rebuilding in an interview with Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun“I think that’s what people want. We still have a pretty good core group, and I’ve got to tell you, that rebuilding, that’s not very much fun.”

The Cardinals own the prospects to pull off such a deal, but the Orioles may wait until mid-season to part ways with the soon-to-be free agent super-star.

Alex Colome, Evan Longoria, and Chris ArcherTampa Bay Rays

Unless St. Louis is willing to part ways with the Arch, they’re not going to acquire all three.

The Cardinals have expressed the most interest in the 28-year-old closer Alex Colome. Colome ranks second, trailing only the Dodgers Kenley Jansen, in total saves (84) from 2016-2017. In the past two years, he holds a 90.6% save-rate and has blown only nine games.

The Cardinals have been linked to Evan Longoria for years now. The Rays may be hard-pressed to move their franchise player, but Longoria will soon have his 10/5 rights at the start of the 2018 season, as noted by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The 10/5 rights grant a no-trade clause to a player with 10 years of MLB service and the previous five with one team. The Rays may part ways with Longoria in an effort to avoid a situation similar to the one that the Marlins faced with Giancarlo Stanton.

Lastly, Chris Archer is the most notable starting pitcher floating on the market. Archer is signed to a bargain deal through 2020, and would easily be the most expensive option of the three players listed. A one-two punch of Carlos Martinez and Chris Archer at the top of the rotation sure would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

Marcell Ozuna and Christian YelichMiami Marlins

Needless to say, the Marlins front office is certainly familiar with the Cardinal farm system. In particular, they’ve expressed interest in Cardinals farm-hand Sandy Alcantara. The hard-throwing prospect would likely be included in a deal for either outfielder.

While Ozuna provides the much-needed pop (37 homers and 124 RBI in 2017), Yelich is more of an all-around player. Since 2014, Yelich’s first full season, he ranks 18th in OBP, while Ozuna ranks 106th. In that same span, Yelich ranks higher in wRC+ (Runs created), OPS+, and WAR. Yelich is a year younger than Ozuna, remains under contract until 2022 (Ozuna until 2020), and is on a team-friendly contract. He’ll make $58 million over the next five years.

The argument of which player is the best option for St. Louis is subjective, but both outfielders have been connected to the Cardinals the past few weeks.

So, what’s the best option for “plan B” for the Cardinals? Only the names on the trade market were listed, excluding free agents like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Who should the Cardinals target to fill void in the lineup and the back of the bullpen?

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